Name: Y. Tony Torng
Occupation: Project Manager and Technical Fellow at the Boeing Company, Adjunct Professor at University of California Irvine (2006)
1. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background and why you should be elected or reelected to the Walnut Valley Unified School District Board of Education.
a. I graduated from National Taiwan University, and received my Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Arizona. Since 1994, I have worked for the Boeing Company. I currently serve as a Chair of Mt. San Antonio College’s Citizens Oversight Committee for Measures R & RR Funding; as a Chair of Diamond Bar Planning Commission; and as a mentor of Diamond Bar High School Robotics team. I have also served as president of the Diamond Bar Chinese American Association; a fundraising co-chair for the Diamond Bar Library; and was on the board of both the Diamond Bar High School Chinese American Parent Association (CAPA) and the Brahma Foundation. My wife and I have two sons who both graduated from the Walnut Valley Unified School District.
b. I have the passion to serve the community, exemplified by my Diamond Bar Hero Award 2013, and a passion for education, especially the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program. As president of Chinese Institute of Engineers, I established a “STEM Presentation and Poster Contest” for college and high school students. I established fundraisers for scholarships and support of educational programs including Diamond Bar High School Robotics Club, where I serve as a mentor. I am a proven leader that will protect WVUSD’s high academic standards and promote the STEM program by nurturing a stimulating learning environment for our students.
2. What do you see as the primary role of the school board?
a. The primary role of the school board is to develop a unifying vision by soliciting and balancing the participation and input of members of the community, and advocating on behalf of the educational needs of children at the local, state, and national levels.
b. School boards are responsible for appointing a superintendent and key members of the central office staff and adopting an annual budget.
c. Our school board needs to work with the Superintendent to:
i. Develop a curriculum to meet federal and state mandates for public schools.
ii. Establish and maintain a basic organizational structure for the local school system.
iii. Initiate educational policies in the district and implement a variety of state and federal policies.iv. Develop, implement, and assess policy; instituted sound employee relations; conducted open meetings; recognized and conformed to the legal mandates imposed by state and federal laws.
3. One key thing school board members are tasked with is voting on budgets and making sure the district is spending wisely. What kind of experience do you have working with budgets?
a. I have a private experience, as the project manager for the Boeing Company, I have the experience in managing various types of projects, many with budget oversight.
b. Additionally, I have public experience:i. As a Mt. SAC Citizen Oversight Committee Chair since 2012, we have to oversee the budget of measure R & RR for 320 million.
ii. As President of Diamond Crest Community Club since 2004, I have to manage a yearly budget of $250K. Since I took over, we have not raised our monthly management fee and our community reserve has grown from $400K (2004) to $1 million (2013).
4. If elected or re-elected to the board, what will be your top 3 priorities for the upcoming term?
a. Create fiscally responsible budgets based on the State’s new Local Control Funding formula
b. Implement the State’s new Common Core Standards
c. Promote Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) program to K-12 students through seminars, workshops and robotics programs
5. What are your thoughts on WVUSD’s District of Choice Program? Do you support it? If so, why? If no, why not?
a. I think that District of Choice can be good for parents and students that are looking for an excellent education from WVUSD. The Walnut School District should make sure that all the students living in the district has first choice on who can attend. We have to look out for our students first. If the District were experiencing declining enrollment this may be a temporary solution until enrollment starts to grow again.
6. Do you have any specific changes you want to make in school district policies, programs, or the various school curricula being offered? If so, what changes do you want to make and why?
a. Until I become a Board member it is difficult to speculate what policies, programs or various curricula that would need revision. There are State and Federal requirements that WVUSD has to follow because that is the law. I would ensure that all of our policies, programs and curricula are up to date. The first policy I would like to review is our school safety policy. This is a very critical policy that we need to be constantly updating each year.
7. School districts, including WVUSD, are rolling out new standards known as common core. What are your thoughts on common core? What are some key issues, if any, you see with implementing it?
a. From my study, Common Core standards definitely have some benefits for our children. The following are some interesting points about Common Core standards:
i. Are aligned with college and work expectations;
ii. Are clear, understandable, and consistent;iii. Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
iv. Build on strengths and lessons of current state standards;v. Are informed by other top-performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in a global economy and society;
vi. Are evidence-based.
b. I think it is a good thing for us. WVUSD is a high performance school district and we should be able to adjust ourselves to these new standards. However, to implement these, I do see there are some issues that need to be taken care of:i. Teachers’ readiness – need to provide more training opportunity for our teachers
ii. Teaching materials – need to be updated.iii. Communications with parents are vital for their support.
8. What are your thoughts on how the district’s test scores are trending year to year? How important of a measure do you feel test scores are in determining student achievement? How important do you think they are in evaluating teacher performance?
a. In general, the Walnut Valley Unified School District has scored very well in the State when it comes to testing. Even though this year’s API of 908 is one point lower than last year’s 909 it is still high among top performing districts
b. I do not think that test scores should be used as a single indicator of a student’s achievement or success. Not every student is a good test taker. I think the District should use multiple tools to assess student achievement.
c. Test scores should not be used as the single indicator on evaluating teachers. There should be multiple tools to evaluate a teacher's performance.
9. The WVUSD recently hired a new superintendent. What do you think the board’s role is in working with a superintendent?
a. We will perform the following roles:i. Advise: I will work with other board members to set the vision and goals.
ii. Assist: I will assist him to achieve the vision and goals.iii. Check: I will frequently check to see if he has performed his job properly or not.
10. What are your thoughts on the importance of parental involvement in helping students achieve? How will you engage the community to improve public schools in the district?
a. I strongly believe in parents’ involvement to be crucial for students’ success. I myself served on parents association for 9 years when my sons were in DB High. Parents will be the bridge between teachers and students. We provided necessary funds for teachers to do something good for students.
b. For example, as president of Chinese Institute of Engineers, I established a “STEM Presentation and Poster Contest” for college and high school students. I also established fundraisers for scholarships and support of educational programs including Diamond Bar High School Robotics Club, where I serve as a mentor. I will continue to work with community to provide more opportunities and resources for our students.